Local business and consumer news. Openings, closings, deals, sales, what to buy and where to buy it, we round it all up and give you an insider's shopper's special on small business in Halifax. Contact shoptalk@thecoast.ca to send a tip.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

SHOP THIS: Hand Drawn Halifax Colouring Book

Paint the town whatever colour you want with Emma FitzGerald’s new colouring book.

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2016 at 3:23 PM

  • photo by Meghan Collins

Emma FitzGerald was midway through her now-popular book Hand Drawn Halifax when she had the idea to make a colouring book version, inviting readers and creative types the opportunity to put their own stamp on her line drawings.

“Three years ago in Toronto, I bought a Van Gogh colouring book,” says FitzGerald. “As a kid I used to copy Van Gogh, I think it’s how I learned to draw in the way I do because there’s so much movement. I think that was in the back of my head.” After spending the winter “un-colouring” her drawings, her Hand Drawn Halifax, The Colouring Book has landed. “They aren’t bubbly and clean like a lot of colouring books are,” she says of her city street sketches. “There aren’t all closed lines and shapes like a typical colouring book, it could make for a more expressive colouring experience.”

You can pick up a copy nearly everywhere local books are sold—including but not limited to Bookmark, Atlantic News, Kept and Inkwell Handmade Boutique—or meet FitzGerald yourself this Friday at the Seaport Farmers’ Market (1209 Marginal Road) from 9:30am to 3:30pm, where she’ll be selling copies of her books, cards and prints.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

11 Street Boutique opens this weekend

The Hydrostone gets a women's and men's clothing store

Posted By on Wed, Jun 29, 2016 at 12:11 PM

  • via @11streetboutique

Erica Cormier is inspired. The north end resident and entrepreneur is opening her first venture into small business—11 Street Boutique (5649 Hennessy Street, on the corner of Isleville)—this weekend in the Hydrostone, and she says she couldn’t have done it without her local retail muses.

“I’m really into shopping local, and boutique shopping, and I saw a lot of younger women opening stores,” she says. “I started feeling like, I can do this because I’m seeing other women like me do it. Seeing Sweet Pea come so far in the last few years was definitely inspiring.”

Her boutique—named for the 10 historic streets of the Hydrostone neighbourhood, from Sebastian to Young, the 11th being Kaye—will sell women’s and men’s clothing and accessories from brands like Beck and Boosh, Cake for Breakfast, MACCS and Muttonhead Apparel, carrying limited numbers of each piece, and replenishing regularly, to ensure to give shoppers that few-of-a-kind experience. Located in the ground floor of a brand new building, Cormier hopes that 11 Street will bring something different to the already popular shopping strip. The shop will officially opens this Saturday, July 2, from 10am to 5pm.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Guided Tour - Bedford

Bedford is on the rise. From Sunnyside Mall to Hammonds Plains Road, Larry Uteck Drive to the Bedford Common, this is one of the fastest-growing communities in Atlantic Canada

Posted on Tue, Jun 28, 2016 at 12:54 PM


With such impactful changes coming, both now and in the future, it’s vital to have someone working for Bedford’s best interests—someone like Councillor Tim Outhit. “We have wonderful neighbourhoods being built, and with that comes a lot of new small businesses and neighbourhood businesses,” says Outhit. “The key for us is to maintain good growth while still cultivating that town feel and spirit.” Bedford seemingly has it all—parks, waterfronts, boutiques and malls, swimming pools and beaches. The community has a great blend of new restaurants and institutions that have stood proudly for decades. “We’ve done a wonderful job of incorporating modern elements while maintaining our pride and history,” says Outhit. “And we’ll continue to work together to make Bedford even better!”

We currently live in a society that is always on the go. This can prove unhealthy for us, especially if we don’t take care of ourselves by getting an adequate amount of relaxation and rest. The Compass Rose Health and Wellness Centre sees this, and works to provide a unique, welcoming environment to achieve a sense of peace and relaxation for their customers. A lifelong dream of founder/director Mike Buckley, the centre offers a number of holistic services. There is a sensory room aimed at children (visit their website for summer programing), massage, talk, and hypnotherapy.Notably, Compass Rose’s most popular service is salt water floatation therapy, a totally relaxed treatment method with more than 60 years of peer-reviewed research, that is effective in helping people relax, correct sleep disturbances and treat chronic pain. If you have PTSD, Fibromyalgia, arthritis, or just want to drop your anxiety or stress levels, check this out. The Compass Rose Health and Wellness Centre, Suite 200-36 Brookshire Court

Sunnyside Mall has slowly been increasing its number of retail boutique offerings, including Hammock by Thornbloom. As the name suggests, Hammock looks to capture the essence of a casual lifestyle and living space. Owner Elaine Shortt’s drive to create a comfortable and welcoming space is highlighted by much of the furniture being easy to maintain and flexible to various decor styles. Slip-covered furniture is the epitome of what Hammock aims for, as owners can trust in the longevity of the item, but with different slip covers available for the same frame, you can change the look and feel if need be. Hammock also has an in-house designer that will do consultations and floor plans for people needing help in finding the perfect arrangement. Hammock by Thornbloom, Sunnyside Mall, 1595 Bedford Highway

A good quality bagel is worth its weight in gold. Nova Scotia is no stranger to that knowledge, with Bedford now on the map as a premier bagel destination thanks to one of the country’s best bagel shops: Izzy’s Bagel Company. Ranked one of the top 10 specialty bagel locations in Canada by Shalom Magazine, Izzy’s has 18 distinct bagel styles (many of which are dairy free, vegan and all preservative free) and 10 different flavours of cream cheese—meaning you have endless possibilities for creating the perfect breakfast sandwich. Izzy’s also offers $1 espresso-based beverages, which is hard to find anywhere else. Owner Mark Brevozan has been delighted by how the community has embraced the uniqueness and world-class level his bagels are, including the California bagel gandwich, with fresh avocado, tomato and garlic and herb cream cheese. Izzy’s Bagel Company, 1180 Bedford Highway

Pete’s Fine Foods is a destination for foodies, gourmands, chefs and families. Catering to healthy lifestyles, special diets and ethnic cuisines they offer an outlet for local farms, specialty items and global influences. It all adds up to customers receiving a friendly, upscale and superior shopping experience. Old-world charm is paired with sophisticated style throughout every department at Pete’s Fine Foods. Pete’s represents more than 200 local vendors between their decadence, grocery, meat and seafood departments, along with one of the premier smoothie bars, they were the first retail outlet in Nova Scotia to offer dry-aged beef and many global specialties from Europe and Asia. Pete’s has long hung its hat on its extremely fresh produce, but some of their meals to go—their legendary West African peanut soup in particular—along with their guacamole and Chupadedos olives and a gluten-free eatery have been what kept customers coming back over and over. Pete’s Fine Foods, Sunnyside Mall, 1595 Bedford Highway

A key cog in any rising community is having its corporate citizens be as actively involved as its residential members. For Relish Gourmet Burgers serving fantastic burgers is only a part of the role they play. Focusing on exceptional food and a laid-back experience, head chef/general manager Dale King wants Bedford to be as much of a part of Relish as they are a part of Bedford. Providing community help when needed, sponsoring local sports teams and other community organizations, and using guest feedback to perfect their customer service are the pillars by which Relish stands. Using only fresh ingredients, Relish offers innovative burgers like the Coach U Burger, which combines a jalapeno blueberry preserve, cheese curds, back bacon and crispy pickled peppers—delicious! Relish Gourmet Burgers, 507B Larry Uteck Boulevard

What happens when you combine one of the most comfortable atmospheres in Bedford with a dedication to quality food, awesome service, local ownership and two patios? You get Resto, the epitome of a local, neighbourhood restaurant. Family-owned and -operated, Marlene Kenley and Ryan Hayes take great pride in Resto being a “from scratch” restaurant—almost every aspect of your meal is prepared in-house—and the vast majority of the menu is gluten free friendly. They’re both Bedford residents, meaning that the restaurant is local in every sense of the word. It adds a great deal of soul and passion to their food, especially Resto’s blackened scallops and pesto fingers, which are modern twists on familiar dishes. Resto Urban Dining, 1516 Bedford Highway

For the past 23 years, Bedford Buy & Sell has refurbished and sold appliances in the Bedford area. They put out the highest quality items, offer a warranty and always arrange delivery options for their clients. Most of Bedford Buy & Sell’s inventory comes new, directly from the manufacturer or large appliances chains, having suffered minor shipping damage. Bedford Buy & Sell offers either an in-store warranty or extended warranties from a third party to back both their new and used appliances. Whether you’re a landlord, a new home owner or just looking to update your current appliances, Bedford Buy & Sell is a great option to find a deal on new or refurbished items from the top brand names. Located at the north end of Bedford, and open six days a week. Visit the website for hours and directions. Bedford Buy and Sell, 1743 Bedford Highway

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

There's no place like Biscuit

Wendy Friedman looks back at Biscuit General Store’s 20 years in business.

Posted By on Thu, Jun 16, 2016 at 2:04 PM

Wendy Friedman and an awesome balloon - MEGHAN TANSEY WHITTON
  • Wendy Friedman and an awesome balloon
  • Meghan Tansey Whitton

Wendy Friedman, owner of Biscuit General Store, pours tea into a cup, her shoulder-grazing earrings swinging slightly as she moves. In the late afternoon sun, you can’t help but notice how those long, colourful earrings match her floral patterned blouse and echo the bright red of her wedge booties.

These details combine to create a sense of fashionable perfectionism that’s almost tangible as she describes why, after 20 years, the owner of Biscuit General Store is still excited to go to work every morning. “The immediacy of when someone has an event to go to and they don’t feel good about themselves and you help them turn that around by showing them that they can look beautiful and feel confident...there’s nothing like it. To me, that’s the most rewarding thing.”

Friedman nods, her earrings dancing on her shoulders. “People would ask why I’d want to go ‘back to retail’ but to me, I find it much more interesting. I want to work with real human beings and real clothes,” she says, explaining owning a store was a lifelong dream.

But, as she recounts how Biscuit was born, it’s clear that her lifelong dream launched from another great desire. It all started with a love of Halifax, and a burning wish to live here long-term. After moving to the city and working in retail, the shop employing her suddenly folded—meaning US-born Friedman needed to find another job, and fast, if she wanted to stay in Canada.

With limited funds (and options), Friedman opened the first incarnation of Biscuit General Store, a tiny shopfront in Park Lane Mall. “Everybody said it wasn’t gonna work. I was mostly scared it would fail and then I wouldn’t be able to stay in Halifax,” she says. “I was flying in the face of everything.”

Since then, Friedman has expanded from barely affording stock to launching an in-house clothing label, Bonanza by Biscuit. With time and lots of effort, she eventually swapped that tiny Park Lane storefront for the behemoth Biscuit currently occupies on Argyle Street.

Part of her slow-and-steady rise came from creating relationships with her customers, Friedman says: “Biscuit is shaped by Halifax and we take to heart so much we hear from customers and the relationships we have.”  If her shop—filled with old-fashioned mannequins and vintage knick-knacks—feels like something from another world, that’s because it kind of is. Friedman grew up in North Carolina, a state dotted with general stores. 

“One of the reasons that it’s called a general store is because of the old general stores I grew up with in the south—eclectic, family-owned treasure-chest places that have been around for a long time,” she says. She sets her teacup down and leans in, earrings flashing in the sunlight as they sway. “It’s hard to say what Biscuit means to Halifax, but what I hope we mean is there’s no place like Biscuit—like as in the Wizard of Oz’s ‘there’s no place like home’. I want people to feel like that,” she says.

“That’s what a lot of general stores are in the south: A place where you run into people from the neighbourhood and you end up chatting, and seeing old friends. That’s what I always wanted.”

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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Halifax Seed celebrates 150 years

The family-run gardening shop is all grown up

Posted By on Thu, Jun 2, 2016 at 2:15 PM

  • Lenny Mullins

It takes commitment, time and TLC for a little seed to put down roots and bloom into something spectacular. The veteran Halifax Seed (5680 Kane Street) knows this better than anyone—the north end gardening shop has been growing with Haligonians for 150 years. This weekend the family-run business is celebrating the mega milestone with gardening demos, kids events, prizes, sales, an appearance from newbie food truck Rustic Crust and, of course, cake.

Emily Tregunno’s family has kept Halifax Seed well-watered for 91 of its 150 years—she’s part of the fourth generation to be involved in the business, which also has a location in Saint John. A new mom herself, Tregunno says many of the shop’s current employees remember the days she and her sister were born. “A lot of our family values are really built on relationships. We have great relationships with customers, suppliers, employees—it’s a family business but the business feels like our family, too,” she says. Those relationships, and a passion for educating gardeners new and old, is what she credits for Seed’s continued success. “And we’re encouraging people to do something fun. The joy of growing your own fresh food or flowers, that’s pretty fun to share with people.”

Tregunno says watching the gardening demographic shift to a younger crop of folks growing food and flowers in urban areas and on tiny windowsills has been pretty fascinating. The anniversary celebrations are well-timed with prime planting time. “Right now is the time for growing just about anything,” she says. Drop by the shop to get inspired to do so, and find a full line-up of Friday and Saturday’s events on Facebook.

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Cast your vote in Best of Halifax 2016

The polls are open for our annual readers' choice awards

Posted By on Wed, Jun 1, 2016 at 10:24 AM


Dearest readers—we need you and your many opinions. And not in the comments section this time. As of today, it's officially Best of Halifax season. You know, the other election everyone's going to be talking about.

For the 22nd year running we're picking your brains to declare out the city's favourite restaurants, shops, bands, people and places in our readers' choice awards. The voting kicks into gear today, and the polls remain open through until midnight on July 31. You can vote here.

A little icing on this slice of Halifax? Vote in at least 30 categories and you'll be entered to win $1,000 in cold, hard, cash.

For those on the campaign trail, or staunch supporters of a local person or business, you can find every campaign material you might need to get the word out here. Pounding the pavement—or the Twitterverse— works, trust us.

Happy voting!

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In Print This Week

Vol 27, No 39
February 20, 2020

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